I have been considering entering this story into the bowels of etiquettehell.com for some time now, and as my husband and I’s anniversary draws near, I am reminded of this story from those days of heady excitement and familial clinical insanity, ah, yes, those ‘engagement days.’
My husband has a younger brother, whom I will call Jeremy. Jeremy, who is two years younger than my darling husband, had been living with a woman, whom I shall call Lara, for some time, about seven years. (They were not married, much to the disapproval and ire of both my husband’s parents and her family, both being devout in a traditional faith and pining for a grandchild.) In any case, my husband and I had met shortly after New Year’s, fell in love, and became engaged the following October. (My husband wishes to note that our courtship and engagement was atypically fast for this day and age, however, he wants me to note that we, being traditionalists, wished to follow that age old poem, “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes living together, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.”)
Originally, we had wanted to hold a very, very small wedding during a weekday at our church, however, being the eldest of his generation, my fiance’s parents were eager to have the “whole shebang” wedding. We finally agreed and, after consulting both families, we chose a lovely day, away from any major holidays, birthdays, other anniversaries, church high holy days, etc., that was a little under a year away. This was, as I understood it, a typical amount of time between his perching on one knee and exchanging those knee-knocking vows in front of a packed congregation. Everyone invited to the wedding received (what has lately become de riguer) a printed card notifying them of the aforementioned date of the wedding, informing them to “save the date”, thus giving our world-wide spread friends and family a good deal of notice to discuss the date, plan for travel, save for expenses, and the like.
We sailed along, joyfully planning our wedding, our heads in that hazy fog of love, and Christmas time arrived before we knew it. We gathered at his parents’ house on Christmas Day, and of course we were enjoying the holiday with my husband’s parents, Jeremy and his live-in girlfriend, the aforementioned Lara, and my husband’s sister. We had just enjoyed a lovely Christmas dinner and the traditional present opening, and my husband’s family and I were relaxing in front of the fireplace, sharing embarrassing childhood stories and fond Christmas memories, when, out of the blue, Lara announced that she and Jeremy were going to be married the Friday immediately before our Saturday wedding date, following with “since your fiance’s family will be in town, we may as well get married then, too, and save them a trip.”
I was absolutely gobsmacked and began to choke on a sip from my glass of wine. My husband and I exchanged looks that could best be described as shocked horror, as did his parents, whom had not even known that Jeremy was thinking of marriage, let alone actually asking Lara for her hand. After I managed to recover, I simply stated, “We have booked the church for our rehearsal that Friday, and we have already booked a (rather large, as we had many out of town/country guests, which, according to our beloved etiquette, should be invited to the rehearsal dinner) banquet room for the traditional rehearsal/thank you supper.” Lara thought for a split second, then said, “It’ll be great, and your rehearsal dinner can be our reception.” Again, I protested at this, stating that we simply couldn’t afford to pay for their (plethora) of friends and her family as well as our own. (We were paying for the wedding entirely on our own.) Lara then suggested they be married on the Sunday after our wedding. Again, I had to tell her that we had already planned to leave for our honeymoon in Mexico on that date and it simply could not be changed, as we had already purchased non-refundable airplane tickets and had arranged to stay at one of our friend’s parents’ beach home. Trying to appease her, I added, “And since we’ll be family, we really would like to be present at your wedding, it’s very important to us.”
Lara’s face began to turn red with anger (I had always assumed that rehearsal/rehearsal dinner was held the day before the wedding and the couple left for the honeymoon the day after the wedding, and that it was pretty clear that this is the way weddings tended to go…) Sensing that she was about to throw a fit and being the chronic people pleaser that I am, I even feebly suggested we have a double wedding, which she quickly and angrily refused, saying that “that was the stupidest idea I have ever heard. If you can’t be at our wedding on that Friday, you’ll just have to miss it!” At this, I retreated to the bathroom and started sobbing. My husband-to-be made a lame excuse and took me home, depressed and with a bloated, tear-stained face.
In the end, however, my future husband spoke with his mother, begging her to try to talk some sense into Jeremy, who, as it turned out, was as surprised as we were that he and Lara were marrying–he had never spoken to her about it and never proposed! My now mother-in-law finally spoke with Lara and convinced her to change the date–not by appealing to her sense of etiquette or sense of basic kindness–but by convincing her that she would get more/more expensive presents by marrying at a different time!
I know that nowadays many brides feel they “own” her wedding month, or even her wedding year–but seriously, the night before?! The day after?!
And having us pay for our rehearsal dinner as their reception? Uncouth doesn’t begin to cover it! I truly shudder to think what will happen when we have children.
P.S. Jeremy and Lara did end up getting married–three years after our wedding! And holy cow, that’s another entry for your site… (Oh, and just for the record, it was her second wedding–and, as can be expected, we are still waiting for a thank you note…two years later.) 0216-09
I would have guffawed laughing at the ridiculous suggestion and then deadpanned, “I cannot accommodate your request.”